While I normally dislike being rushed when I’m photographing, the opportunity to pay my first-ever visit to Venice, though I knew I would be forced to work a break-neck speed, was too good to pass up.
Several times, during the course of the day, I turned a corner, happened upon an unexpected scene and just had to stop and laugh and shake my head in giddy incredulity at the beauty of what I was looking at. Although I have visited almost a hundred countries and thought I had seen everything, I have never seen any place as picturesque as Venice.
Knowing that I would have to work fast and wanting to get the maximum amount of image-making out of my short visit, before arriving, I bought an iPhone app called “Photographer’s Guide to Venice”, which at least helped me to identify the not-to-be missed shots.
Of course, there is a risk with an app like this that one might end up doing little more than re-shooting photos that had been shot a million times before. But I found the app invaluable in helping to get quickly from one great photographic location to another.
And, although I did shoot some of the iconic Venetian scenes, I happened upon a sufficient number of unexpected locations, just by walking around, that I felt I was able to produce my own interpretation of this much-photographed city.
Everyone knows, of course, that Venice is sinking. But what is also apparent, during even the briefest of visits, is that it is also crumbling. The buildings are all several hundred years old; the wear and tear, as well as the fact that most are standing in water, have visibly taken their toll. While one gets the feeling of a tragedy that is in the process of happening, from a photographer’s viewpoint, this makes for wonderful combinations of textures and colours.
Directly in front of many of the buildings, the owners have driven wooden stakes into the canal bed, to protect the masonry from being damaged by passing boats, as in the third image.
I was hugely entertained, at one point in the day, while photographing from a small bridge, to watch a cargo boat trying to navigate around a tight corner. As the sturdy bow of the approaching boat neared the delicate brickwork of a house that stood at the edge of the canal, the owner of the house, an elderly gentleman, flung open his door and stuck out his foot, pushing against the bow of the boat and guiding it around the corner without bumping into his precious masonry.
Only in Venice…
(click on an image to enlarge it)